> Weekly Torah Portion > Shabbat Shalom > Shabbat Shalom Weekly

Ki Tetzei 5772

Ki Tetzei (Deuteronomy 21:10-25:19 )

by Kalman Packouz

GOOD MORNING! Did you ever ask yourself, "What good is prayer? My prayers don't get answered!" If you have asked the question, then great! It means you are asking the right questions about the purpose and meaning of life.

So, what's the answer? Prayer is not a form of barter where one puts in his requests and God is supposed to fill his list of requests. Prayer is about coming closer to the Almighty and creating a relationship with the Almighty. Whether the Almighty fulfills our requests in full or in part is determined by the Almighty as to what will help us grow in that relationship. That is why all prayers are answered -- sometimes with a "Yes," sometimes with a "No" and sometimes ... with a "Not yet."

Our purpose on earth is to grow as human beings, to develop our souls by doing the mitzvot (the Almighty's commandments in the Torah), to work on refining our character and perfecting the world. Prayer is a means for us to fulfill our purpose.

As mentioned, prayer is about building a relationship with the Almighty. It is about changing ourselves and recognizing that everything comes from the Almighty -- and only the Almighty. By strengthening this relationship it changes us and makes it good for the Almighty to grant our request.

A prayer has three components based on how one would make a request to an earthly king who had the power to grant your request or even put one to death: 1) Praises of God. (He doesn't need our praises; it focuses us on Who we are talking to.) 2) Our requests. 3) Thanks. (It is good manners to show appreciation.)

Of course, we would love for our requests to be answered in the affirmative. However, it is not always in our ultimate best interest. We can relate to this as parents. A child may beg for something that the parent knows is not in the child's best interest and may even be a danger to a child. The smart and caring parent will do the right thing, do the difficult thing and say "no."

We Jews believe that there is a God Who created the world, loves us, gives us ultimately what is best for us, has a covenant with us which obligates us to fulfill His commandments, deals with us with both justice and mercy. Life is complex. We are finite; God is infinite. We (those of us who understand that we are limited in our knowledge and understanding) do not presume to know the whole picture. We do know based upon our understanding of Torah and history that God has a plan for history and a track record of fulfilling His promises -- be they for reward or punishment. We understand that the Almighty acts in this world with purpose, meaning and good.

What good is prayer if our prayers aren't answered in the way we want or in the way we think we deserve? Prayer gives us hope. What is the value of hope? Hope makes it possible for us to live and face the future; with hope we have the possibility of change, improvement ... something better. Prayer is a means of integrating into ourselves that life has meaning and that we are not alone. What is the value of prayer? Perhaps the piece below, illustrates best:


I asked
for strength, and
God gave difficulties to make me strong.
I asked for wisdom, and
God gave me problems to solve.
I asked for prosperity, and
God gave me brawn and brain to work.
I asked for courage, and
God gave me dangers to overcome.
I asked
for love, and
God gave me troubled people to help.
I asked for favors, and
God gave me opportunities.
I received nothing
I wanted.
I received everything
I needed.
My prayers were answered.


Hear classes on...
Download to Go
or Listen FREE On-Line


Torah Portion of the Week
Ki Tetzei

Topics in this week's portion include: Women Captives, First-Born's Share, The Rebellious Son, Hanging and Burial, Returning Lost Articles, The Fallen Animal, Transvestitism, The Bird's Nest, Guard-Rails, Mixed Agriculture, Forbidden Combinations, Bound Tassels, Defamed Wife, Penalty for Adultery, Betrothed Maiden, Rape, Unmarried Girl, Mutilated Genitals, Mamzer, Ammonites & Moabites, Edomites & Egyptians, The Army Camp, Sheltering Slaves, Prostitution, Deducted Interest, Keeping Vows, Worker in a Vineyard, Field Worker, Divorce and Remarriage, New Bridegroom, Kidnapping, Leprosy, Security for Loans, Paying Wages on Time, Testimony of Close Relatives, Widows and Orphans, Forgotten Sheaves, Leftover Fruit, Flogging, The Childless Brother-in-Law, Weights and Measures, Remembering What Amalek Did to Us.

* * *

Dvar Torah
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

The Torah teaches an important lesson about choosing a spouse in this week's portion. Regarding a non-Jewish woman captured during war that a soldier wishes to marry, the Torah places all sorts of restrictions in the way of marriage over a period of thirty days -- so that his passion will cool. The Torah states regarding the soldier's ultimate decision:

"And it will be if you did not want her" (Deut. 21:14).

Why does the Torah speak in the past tense ("did not want her") when referring to the decision the soldier makes at the end of thirty days? The Torah "should" have spoken in the future tense -- "and ... if you will not want her."

The answer is that there is a difference between the term chaishek which means passion and lust, and the Hebrew verb used by the Torah in this verse, chofaitz, which means wanting because of a rational decision that something is good for you. The Torah is telling us that a person who wants to marry someone only because of infatuation and a passion that is based on good looks never really wanted the person from the very beginning (therefore the past tense is used). It was just desire, not a genuine love for the other person.

Rabbi Noah Weinberg, of blessed memory, the founder of Aish HaTorah defines love as "the pleasure one has in seeing the good in another person. It is based on recognizing the virtuous qualities in another person and identifying the person with those qualities. Infatuation, however, is blind -- when your emotions prevent you from seeing the entire picture and you mistakenly believe that the object of your infatuation is totally perfect, free of any faults." Love is not blind, it is open-eyed -- you see the faults and imperfections as well as the good. Infatuation is blind. If you think the other person is perfect -- watch out!


(or go to

Jerusalem 6:29
Guatemala 5:57 - Hong Kong 6:23 - Honolulu 6:30
J'Burg 5:35 - London 7:31 - Los Angeles 7:02
Melbourne 5:39 - Mexico City 7:34 - Miami 7:24
New York 7:12 - Singapore 6:51 - Toronto 7:36

AISH FACT:  Aish HaTorah's World Center is located in two buildings overlooking the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem. While most students are college and post-college age, Aish has established the Executive Learning Center to provide for Jewish adults who want to learn more about our heritage while in Israel. For more information, please visit .



Life is fragile - Handle with prayer


In Honor of

Beth Bloom

My wife, friend and life partner
Happy 19th Wedding Anniversary

I Love You,



Leave a Reply

1 2 3 2,914

🤯 ⇐ That's you after reading our weekly email.

Our weekly email is chock full of interesting and relevant insights into Jewish history, food, philosophy, current events, holidays and more.
Sign up now. Impress your friends with how much you know.
We will never share your email address and you can unsubscribe in a single click.
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram